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The Millennial Translation: 4 Common Misconceptions About Millennials

How well do you think you know millennials? You may have heard they are lazy, they job hop, and they do not communicate well.

These are all stereotypes, and all myths. I think we all can agree that there are individuals in each generation category that do not communicate well and that do not produce their fair share of work.

I also think that I can speak for most millennials when I say that they, in particular, are often misunderstood.

If you are someone who has been guilty of the unconscious bias associated with misunderstanding other generations (outside of your own, of course), allow me to translate a few misconceptions in this millennial translation article.

Misconception #1: Millennials feel entitled

Most likely: Millennials believe and feel that hard work should be recognized. Some of the most successful organizations in the world operate in a meritocracy and millennials are motivated by this type of environment. In a meritocracy, people are promoted and move ahead based on their achievements, skills, and talent.

Misconception #2: Millennials change jobs, a lot

Most likely: Millennials want to be in an environment where they have the potential to grow. Unfortunately, some government organizations are behind the curve in talent management. They don’t recognize when they have enthusiastic employees who are able to master an operation in a short amount of time. Understandably so, because that’s not the way it’s always been.

Today, new workers are entering the workforce with a long-term career mindset and they know what they want to do with their careers, and more importantly, they have mapped it out. If the organization cannot feed or accommodate that person’s motivation, then it is smart for the individual to go somewhere that can.

Misconception #3: Millennials prefer texting to talking and their excessive use of technology has made them less personable and horrible communicators

Most likely: Millennials admire efficiency. They love technological advances that allow them to communicate better and quicker. Like it or not, almost all new technologies have pros and cons. Long gone are the days when your phone has one function: make a phone call. Today, phones are everything; and they do everything. (i.e. taking notes during a meeting when you do not have a pen).

Misconception #4: Millennials do not know the meaning of hard work and they think that an honest week of work is too much to ask

Most likely: Millennials understand the benefit of work/life balance. We are living in an age where we have the ability to do it all (raise a family, run a business, work full-time, earn a secondary degree, etc.). The term ‘honest’ is subjective and hard work should not be a back-breaking task that runs you down and has a negative impact on your health.

Hard work in one person’s eyes may mean busting your butt eight hours a day and sweating because “If you’re not sweating, you’re not working hard”. On the other hand, millennials are “work smarter, not harder” thinkers. In other words, the paradigm of a millennial is typically to ask what’s the best way to get this done?

Sometimes, the best way is to keep it simple. Working smarter allows you to maximize your time so that you do not spend extra hours at work that you could be spending with your family.

It may be true that most millennials do things differently from Generation X’ers or Baby Boomers. However, perhaps this is why we were placed in these generation groups to begin with. Not simply because of the timeframe we were born but because of the diverse characteristics that define us all.

The key to having successful relationships with anyone regardless of their generation status is to appreciate the diversity that individuals bring to the table. Generation translation is simple. If you are not clear on a person’s intentions, ambitions or motives, and you are genuinely interested in knowing what they are, all you have to do is: ASK.

Rita Lucas is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is a writer and author who works with the federal government as a management analyst and project manager. As a writer, she helps small business and non-profit organizations promote their mission and brand; and as an author, she has published several titles that promote self-development. As a government employee, Rita has worked in the field of human resources for 11 years and has volunteered for leadership positions with veteran-focused and millennial-centric organizations. Rita holds a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in publishing. She is a new mom and resides in Maryland with her family. You can read her posts here.

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Mai-Ling Garcia

I just wrote about the same topic – this gave me some wonderful perspective!

The complaint that Millenials job hop drives me nuts. Millennials have to. Promotion opportunities are fewer because people are retiring later, the gig economy is real, and the overly inflated cost of housing – means people have to find opportunities where they can get them.

And p.s. – Millennials aren’t crying, youngsters. Many of them have families and are pushing 40. LOL.

Good reframing of common perceptions!

Rita Lucas

Thanks for the feedback Mai-Ling.

You make an excellent point about millennials having families and pushing 40. 🙂 It makes one wonder if the “characteristics” given us, change with time (age).